Corporate Facebook strategy handbook

A good social media strategy can make or break a company, so why do so many spend more time planning ad campaigns?

Last year Coca Cola took a calculated risk spending $5 million on its ‘share a coke’ campaign that saw names printed on Coke bottles in a bid to re-capture a slipping market. Australia was a test bin for a strategy that Coca Cola hoped to roll-out worldwide.

It would be likely that the mega beverage company spent months planning and predicting the course of this Australian trial before one syllable was printed on a bottle or can.

That's the reality of modern day marketing. Companies test a strategy, predict its outcome and then push it upon the wider public hoping for the desired effect. But if this strategy is so apparent within the ethos of modern day marketing, why isn’t it reflected in many companies' Facebook pages?

According to research by KPMG, just over half of all companies are involved in social media. You can safely bet that the majority of them would run a Facebook page with the hopes of capturing consumer’s attention online.

Yet according to social media marketing firm Online Circle’s CEO Jeff Richardson, many promotional Facebook pages are a corporate afterthought. They exist to “check a box” within the company’s marketing strategy.

This is the first story in a series in which we investigate how companies are using Facebook effectively and the tips and tricks they are undertaking to gain more than ‘likes’ but a captive audience in which to beam their corporate message.

We start with a look at the latest bi-monthly report published by Online Circle which outlines the latest corporate Facebook habits and some basic tips on how to manage a company Facebook page.

Create a detailed Facebook marketing plan and stick to it

When planning to launch a Facebook page, you should detail a marketing plan, like you would with an advertisement.

“It continually amazes me that companies don’t treat social media and Facebook as they would another marketing campaign,” Richardson says.

Richardson claims this planning process could last as long as a month and should set out a clear goal for the Facebook page and set of guidelines when using it.

“It should be fairly black and white,” he says.

Understand why your audience ‘likes’ you

Facebook users follow company’s pages for numerous reasons, but if you can work out a general trend, then you can use that to further promote your page.

Richardson says that some of the common reasons why people ‘like’ certain brand’s pages is because they are looking for sales or deals, want to create a dialogue – or complain – to the company or because they have a genuine affinity for the brand.

“People do have a reason for following you, whether they realise or not,” Richardson says.

Be wary of censoring your page

According to Richardson, hitting the delete button on negative posts should be avoided when managing a Facebook page. Criticism is a risk that companies take when they set up a page to begin with. Deleting comments will only serve to alienate the company and disconnect the page from its followers.

Not to mention the bad PR it can cause if you are a major company. Westpac recently created a negative media storm by erasing criticisms from its Facebook page.

“Companies should focus on protecting their community [followers] rather than protecting their own brand,” Richardson says.

Richardson adds however that deleting posts can be used as a last resort, but only when the content of those posts legally threaten the company or deeply offend its community of followers.

Don’t abandon your Facebook page. Commit or delete

Too many companies adopt a Facebook page only to give up on it a month down the line, leaving it floating in cyberspace without anyone attending to it.

Richardson warns that this is a legal risk for the company hosting the neglected page. He says that according to the law, Facebook users are responsible for whatever is posted on their site. He adds that precedence has been set with individuals or groups being dragged to court over what is written – without their knowledge – on their Faecbook walls.

Richardson says that if you stick to your initial marketing plan, then you shouldn’t need to worry about the site being abandoned in the first place.

You’re not just competing with other companies for attention.

People join Facebook for their friends, not to entertain a corporate message. This means that you are not only competing with other companies for users' attention, you are also competing with a user’s friends.

Companies need to use everything at their disposal to incentivise people to use their page. Of course, this point is linked to an understanding of why people use your page in the first place.

 “Too many companies focus on the amount of ‘likes’ they have but don’t activate them properly,” Richardson says.

Companies can use tools such as competitions and exclusive deals to drive hype over Facebook and get other users to promote their page for them.

Being young doesn’t make you an expert at social media marketing

Many companies assume that the youngest person in the office is the most experienced with social media and often give them the keys to the company’s most immediate way of communicating with users.

While Richardson says that some youth excel at using social media, not all of them are aware of the marketing opportunities that the medium presents.

“From a business perspective, it’s a real marketing opportunity for those that use it properly”

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